Hospital Patient Identification: June 3, 2012

The next time you check into a hospital, don’t be surprised to hear the same question, time and time again.

“We want to make sure that for every service we provide, every therapy, every surgery, every medication, that we’re absolutely identifying the patient as the right patient. It’s critical because medication errors, surgical errors can occur, if a patient’s misidentified,” says Dr. Larry Antonucci, Chief Medical Officer of Lee Memorial Health System.

As part of the ‘It Takes Two’ patient safety initiative, each person who comes in contact with a patient will ask for two personal identifiers. In the age of fast-paced medicine, it’s designed to avoid medical mix-ups.

“These patient identification problems, have been an issue. We have always had a two patient identifier policy, but now we are raising it to a higher level,” says Dr. Antonucci.

It is not too uncommon for patients to have the same or similar names, making it crucial to cross check every step of the way.

“We can have two people with the same name in the facility, chances are reasonable that that could happen. However, same name and same date of birth? We’re decreasing the chance, but having all of us on the same page and by making safety our number one priority, when you walk into this facility you can presume that you will be safe during your care course,” says Michael Marcus, Trauma Program Director for Lee Memorial Health System.

A pledge to patient safety, health professionals want to eliminate the guesswork.

“We don’t want you to be offended if we ask because we will be asking on a regular basis. We want you to be offended if we don’t ask,” says Marcus.